A couple of weeks ago I divulged to a new acquaintance that I wrote a history blog and her response was interest and a question, ‘But who proofreads for you?’
That would be me.
Sadly, I’ve no-one at home who I can ask for a quick proofread. There is interest in what I write, but not enough to read a longer post and if I’m honest, they wouldn’t pick up the same grammatical errors or typos that I would expect to be picked up by a proofreader.
I’m not infallible and sometimes little things do escape my notice, particularly at the end of a long piece of writing, when I’m less inclined to notice that autocorrect has completely ruined my sentence. Also, earlier paragraphs will have had frequent scrutiny as I always read from the beginning each time I open up a document on my laptop. The conclusion, therefore, might be a little suspect, although now that I’m aware of this I do try and remember to check!
Please don’t feel the need to check the final paragraphs of each blog post to see if there are any errors – although it would boost my stats – silver linings, and all that . . .
So, to make sure I limit errors in my published work I take the following steps:
- These days I use Pages on my Mac laptop (I previously used Microsoft Word) and let the computer dictate on spelling, nevertheless, I will ignore and amend the autocorrect function if I’m sure my spelling is correct. If I’m not sure, I do a quick Google search as etymology evolves continually. Consider the word ‘proofread’: initially it was two words – proof read, then hyphenated – proof-read and now modern usage has both words combined into one.
- I set my document to double-line spacing as this is easier on the eye and looks more professional than single-line spacing.
- I also justify my work – this means that there is a standard margin on the left and right side of the document.
- I try to keep paragraphs limited in length – this is easier to read on electronic devices and saves the reader from facing a wall of words.
- I read aloud from top to bottom to ensure my words flow nicely and all paragraphs are linked.
- Sometimes I need to work on a particular sentence (I have a tendency to write overlong sentences which need to be edited into two coherent sentences). [See what I did there?]
- I check my punctuation as I write, but sometimes I feel the need to move a misplaced comma. Occasionally I may stress different sections of the sentence when reading and need to rejig.
- I check that I’ve started every sentence with a capital letter and ended with a full stop.
- I try to take a mental break from the work before proofreading. This can be a coffee break, a couple of hours or even a couple of days or more. This is because your brain is used to whatever you have written and it is best to read with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot errors. If you can, ask someone else to check it for you. Peer input can be invaluable, for example, open up new questions and insights to inform your research and writing. Friends can be go-to editors.
- Once I have read, reread and reread again. I will copy and paste onto WordPress.
- Sometimes when I copy to WordPress I may have to justify again as my previous settings do not always transfer across.
- I tidy up any bullet points, again sometimes they don’t copy and paste so well. I ensure that If I have used sentences I have added a full stop, otherwise with a simple bullet list, I tend not to.
- I now get to do the fun stuff – I add in my hyperlinks (sometimes I have the URL prepared, pasted underneath the paragraph in which it will be placed).
- I add the photographs and resize accordingly. I try to be consistent within an article, however, I have been experimenting with size recently and have also mosaicked groups of photographs that are similar. I usually centre non-mosaicked photos rather than aligning left or right. Photos are great for breaking up long paragraphs which would otherwise have the reader facing a wall of words.
- I then select my categories and add in my tags. I have my default category set as ‘History’ and if required I add any other relevant categories. However, this article will be categorised under ‘Blogging’.
- I always press ‘preview’ before publishing as seeing the article in its final setting helps highlight inconsistencies or errors.
- When I’m finally happy everything is reading as expected and photos are sited correctly I will press ‘publish’.
Hopefully, I will have managed to publish the above without any silly errors! Always a worry, however, once published, I will read again!
This time if I spot something I don’t like – and I usually do – I click ‘edit’ and change the offending word, centre the photo or maybe add in the tag that I forgot. I press ‘update’ and then breathe, another article has been published.
Do you have any rituals before pressing ‘publish’?